Manchester United have been struggling a lot lately, more due to their poor performance in front of the goal. But what about defence ? Well, United have a great record this season that they have conceded just 7 goals this season at Old Trafford. Smalling and De Gea takes more praise from the media but what about the Dutch Captain Daley Blind? Has he been fulfilling the expectations of the manager and the fans? I can proudly say YES.! This player was criticized due to his lack of defensive abilities as a Centre back but I dare you to watch him now.
I do feel that Daley Blind is the most underrated centre back. This player previously played as a defensive midfielder or as a left back where he performed his job very well. Then due to the growing number of injuries in the team he was forced to play at the back. It was a new challenge for the player to handle the pressure from the fans. As the teams were failing to score the goals, United were building a strong wall in front of their post. Chris Smalling was the old guard of the goal and Daley Blind was the new one. He fumbled a lot in the beginning, but as the league advanced, the Dutch man converted himself into a centre back.
What do we imagine when we listen the word ‘Centre back’? A tall personality with a great physic? Well, let me tell you, Blind is not tall nor his strength is the attribute which is usually cherished by the fans but he is a tough tackler, he can hold the line, he has the vision to pass the ball across the flanks. Initially, he lacked in the aggression due to which he was thrown up against the centre forwards like Gomis and Pelle who were able to beat him physically almost effortlessly.
But in recent times, he has silenced his critics in style. Chris Smalling, his co-centre back thinks that Blind is one of the best in the league in his current role.
“He deserves more plaudits and I think he will get them if he carries on playing the way he is playing. Everyone is standing up and taking note that Daley is one of the mainstays of this team and he is keeping us ticking.”
“It is a good partnership. We know we can rely on each other. When there is a situation you don’t have to over cover because you don’t trust your partner. We trust each other fully and we bring out the best in each other as the games have gone on and the more games we have played together.”
He deserves more applause and I think he will get them if he carries on playing the way he is playing. Being a centre back, he has created 17 chances for his team and averages 7 defensive actions per game. Though he is very weak in his ariel abilities, he is a successful player when we talk about individual take ons as he has succeeded in his 14 out of 17 take ons this season also, 58 out of his 113 tackles have been successful.
Talking about recent weeks, Romelu Lukaku, who is considered as one of the destructive strikers with his pace and aerial abilities, but it was it was Lukaku who came off worse in their duels. Blind’s game in numbers against Everton shows how this player has adopted this position.
100% aerial duels won, 3 interceptions, 3 blocks, 2 clearance, 2 tackles won and million hearts conquered.
What about Aguero? In the Manchester Derby, Aguero was far more physically threatening attacker than anyone in the league but, Blind completely out-powered the Argentine sensation. In the game, Aguero purposefully targeted Blind as they saw him as the weakest link in the United’s squad. But Blind answered them in style and never let the Argentine to take the shots. The Dutchman has learned to overcome his flaws to some extent. His speed and his strength are in his head. Despite playing fewer games, it is Blind who has made the most passes for United this season, rather than Juan Mata. He is their hub for recycling possession and creativity at the back.
It’s not just about Everton and City’s game. In the second half of the season, he showed his commitment and his desire. The former Ajax star, who is naturally a central midfielder, has become a heavily reliable source for his manager and his team. His average of seven defensive actions per game is the second-most in the league.
I’m pretty sure that a player like Daley Blind can cope with the pressure and the critics and he certainly is one of the most important part of the Red Devils setup.